The several active quarries -- you can visit some of them -- provide a detailed insight into one of the most important raw materials in the region. This is a part of Alentejo where the cities wear white, be it the sumptuous façade of the palace Palácio Ducal in Vila Viçosa or the several buildings in Estremoz where marble is the primary material.
But there is more to these lands than marble. From castles and museums to the table, where local wines and dishes are genuinely exceptional, wander the streets of these Alentejo towns and find a story worth telling around every corner.
When in the typical Alentejo Central plains of vineyards and olive groves you see a wall of marble it means you are at one of the Terras de Mármore (Lands of Marble).
Let's begin in Estremoz. You enter the historic centre of this city through one of the four marble doors at the castle walls, a city that encompasses a vast cultural and archaeological heritage, visible in the monuments scattered around town. The home to kings and queens throughout the History of Portugal and the set for battles like Ameixial and Montes Claros.
Through a maze of steep streets, you'll reach the top of the highest part of the city, where the Alentejo landscape unfolds in every direction. Here you'll see, in real life, one of the most famous postcards of the region -- the Estremoz Castle and its wall. Built by King Afonso III, it has two opposite main gates: Porta do Sol and Porta de Santarém. Inside the fort, Torre de Menagem and Paço Real, built by King Dinis, are two must-see sites.
Going down from the Castle to the commercial area, you’ll see Rossio Marquês de Pombal. Every Saturday, fruits, vegetables, flowers, sweets, antiques, handicrafts like the famous Bonecos de Estremoz (ceramic figures painted in bright colours), and more fill the Largo do Rossio with colour and activity.
Once downtown, you’re struck by the majestic Convento das Maltesas convent, which houses the Centro de Ciência Viva de Estremoz inside the Claustro da Misericórdia cloister. On the way to the convent, stop to admire the Lago do Gadanha (Gadanha Lake). And before you continue your trip, make sure you taste some of the best wines in the region and the most iconic dishes like Ensopado de Borrego (lamb stew), Pezinhos de Coentrada (pork feet with coriander), and Carne de Porco com Ameijoas (pork with clams).
Home to one of the most impressive monuments in Alentejo: the palace Palácio Ducal de Vila Viçosa.
Back on the road, stop in Borba just 15 minutes away. Pay attention to all the details while wandering the streets of the town. The region’s star raw material is all around in doors, windows, chimneys, street plaques, and frames. Some monuments like the church Igreja Matriz, Convento das Servas de Cristo convent, Igreja de São Bartolomeu church, and Fonte das Bicas fountain are also excellent examples of the use of marble.
Next stop is Vila Viçosa, home to one of the most impressive monuments in Alentejo: the palace Palácio Ducal de Vila Viçosa. If you’re impressed by the 110-meter façade covered in local marble, inside the royal palace the sculptures, paintings, and décor of the over 50 rooms will carry you to a gone by era of the History of Portugal.
Walking the streets of Vila Viçosa, you'll reach the castle where you'll have a broad view and a unique perspective of the town. Built by King Dinis at the last decade of the 13th century, the castle has a Gothic Manueline style. Inside, the Solar da Padroeira de Portugal and the museums Museu da Caça (Hunting Museum) and Museu da Arqueologia (Archaeology Museum) are must-visit sites. Nearby, you can visit the tomb of one of the greatest Portuguese poets, Florbela Espanca. At church Igreja Matriz of Vila Viçosa, you'll see the Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Conceição with the original figure of Our Lady of Conception, the patron saint of Portugal.
Make one last stop near the exit to Borba. At Pedreira da Gradinha, the Museu do Mármore (Marble Museum) unveils the history of marble in the region and reveals how this raw material is transformed and transported to the whole world.
Redondo is a typical Alentejo village marked by tradition and hospitality. Home to excellent wines, wise hands that transform clay, and great food, the local festival Festa das Ruas Floridas is its main attraction. Every two years, since the 19th century, thousands of paper flowers add colour to the village and attract people from all over the world.
At the heart of the town, get to know one more medieval castle built by King Dinis, Castelo do Redondo, and visit the museums Museu Regional do Redondo (Redondo Regional Museum) and Museu do Barro (Clay Museum).
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